Packers 2016 Recap: OLB Julius Peppers
- Played in 16 games
- 23 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
- Pro Football Focus: 79.8/100 (35th out of 109 qualified edge defenders)
Expectations going into the season: High
Expectations were: Met
Analysis: Peppers ends his three-year stint with Packers on top
At 36 years old, Julius Peppers was the second-oldest defensive player in the NFL last season.
He entered training camp for the 15th time this summer as a starting outside linebacker and being counted to produce in a big way on defense. It’s a common refrain for Peppers, who has in his previous stops in Carolina and Chicago been expected to be a Pro Bowl player.
Through the first six games of the season, the Packers were careful not to overuse Peppers. He played under 50 percent of the defensive snaps before playing 72% of the snaps in a Halloween weekend matchup in Atlanta.
From then on, Peppers was unleashed. He finished with 7.5 sacks, tied for 31st in the league and second-most on the Packers behind Nick Perry (11). His four sacks in Green Bay’s final seven regular-season games helped win the NFC North.
When Clay Matthews and Nick Perry missed significant time down the stretch, Peppers stepped in and played well. It had to have been frustrating for the 36-year-old to sit out significant chunks of the early season, but the plan paid off in spades.
"I think about it sometimes. Like, 'Am I going to play next year? Does Green Bay even want me to come back next year?'" Peppers said late in the regular season. "Who knows? I don't know. You have to ask them that."
In three seasons with the Packers, Peppers never missed a practice because of injury, only being held out a handful of times for rest late in the season. He recorded 25 sacks in 48 games with Green Bay.
After the season, Peppers returned to his home state of North Carolina to finish his career with the team that drafted him, the Carolina Panthers.